by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A testing first round and should she succeed there is most creditable potential second round adversary; Japan’s Hina Hayata, the top seed, waits in the wings.
In the first round Hina Hayata faces Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya, a player who topped her qualification group but endured difficult times; she needed the full seven games to beat Portugal’s Leila Oliveira (9-11, 11-1, 5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8).
Meanwhile for Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the respective top seeds, as for Japan’s Yui Hamamoto, the no.3 seed, most worthy opponents await in the opening round.
Jeon Jihee faces Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the third highest rated amongst the qualifiers; Yui Hamamoto confronts Laura Gasnier of France, the second highest listed. Notable adversaries but could it be Yang Haeun who faces the most difficult opening round task? She meets Nadezhda Bogdanova of Belarus, the nemesis of Spain Sara Ramirez in the opening round (8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7).
Just Maria Xiao to fly the flag for Spain in the Women’s Singles event; conversely in the Men’s Singles competition there are host nation players here there and everywhere.
Alvaro Robles, the no.5 seed, heads the list, he meets Austria’s Simon Pfeffer in the opening round; next in line is Jesus Cantero, the no.15 seed followed by Carlos Machado, the no.16 seed. The opening round adversary for Carlos Machado is Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo, for Jesus Cantero, it is Sweden’s Hampus Soderlund, the highest rated player in the qualification tournament.
Additionally six Spaniards – Alejandro Calvo, Carlos Franco, Javier Bento, Carlos Caballero, Miguel Vilchez, Endika Diaz – all emerging successful in the qualification tournament are on main draw Men’s Singles duty. Arguably the names to note are those of Carlos Caballero and Endika Diez, both started proceedings as the lowest rated in their respective groups, both upsets the odds to end matters unbeaten and in top spots.
Undoubtedly, the toughest task of all is that facing Alejandro Calvo, he confronts Austria’s Robert Gardos, the top seed, in the opening round; the next most exacting for the Spanish qualifiers being that facing Carlos Franco, he opposes Korea’s Cho Seungmin, the no.3 seed.
Creditable adversaries for Robert Gardos and Cho Seungmin, it is the same for Jiang Tianyi, the no.2 seed and for Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan, the no.4 seed. In the opening round Jiang Tianyi plays Congo Brazzaville’s Saeed Idowu, Noshad Alamiyan meets Romania’s Alin Spelbus.
A busy schedule awaits on the opening day of play; the first round of the Women’s Singles event will be completed, in the Men’s Singles event the first two rounds.